Arlington, Texas: The last time the Dallas Cowboys played in prime time on Sunday, they had to figure out how to win without a postal press cut.
Now they need to figure out how to bring their star quarterback back before the calf injury that kept him out of the win against Minnesota.
The Cowboys (10-4) have three games ahead of the all-but-assured trip to the playoffs, starting at home against Washington on Sunday night as NFC East leaders try to complete a sweep of three consecutive division opponents. The first was Washington.
Still much growth, drama left out there, Prescott said. We’ve taken those steps and we’ve gotten better and better at it, and I keep saying, Peak at the right time. Yes, comfortable where we are and more importantly, where we were going.
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinick should return after clearing the Covid-19 protocol on Thursday, two days after Garrett Gilbert started with Heinick, and Kyle Allen was backed up by a virus.
Washington’s (6-8) best post-season hopes have been dashed by a 27-17 loss to Philadelphia in a coronavirus-delayed game. Last season’s NFC former winner was eliminated from that race and is playing again just five days later
“I’m not going to say anything, okay, I hope we can finish this year with a winning record,” said coach Ron Rivera. No, I want to go to the playoffs. I want to win the playoffs. I want to win everything. If I could win 20 matches, I would win 20 matches. It’s just my mentality.
Prescott cited turnover as part of what went wrong with him. One was a pick-6 that gave Washington a realistic chance to close the 19-point deficit in the last six minutes of a 27-20 Dallas win two weeks ago.
Ezekiel Elliott, who suffered a knee injury, and the ongoing game improved to a 21-6 win against the New York Giants last week, but Prescott has had as many touchdowns in his last three games (three) as he has won all. He had 16 TD passes and four picks before the calf injury.
Playing on a good defense, Prescott said. They are doing a good job with some of the things that we do really well and keep our patience up and make drama at the bottom. It’s hard, but I was taking on the challenge and getting better through it.
There are a number of ways that the Cowboys can wrap up a division title or play-off berth before playing. The first comes Thursday, with San Francisco losing to Tennessee to win a post-season spot for Dallas.
On Sunday, the Philadelphia loss or tie against the New York Giants ended the NFC East race and the Tampa Bay win against the Carolinas or the tie kept the Cowboys in the playoffs.
Heinick, who is 6-6 as a starter, returned to practice on Thursday after clearing protocol.
Rivera said he seems to be on top of everything. The boys were obviously attracted to her when she returned to Hadley, so it was nice to see her.
Heinke had 11 of 25 runs at 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Dallas on Dec. 12 before leaving with a knee injury.
Heinick performed well against the Tampa Bay and defeated the Buccaneers earlier this season, the first time he had seen an opponent for the second time in his NFL career. Rivera expects a similar advantage for Heinick, who faces the Cowboys twice in three weeks.
I went there today and felt good throwing balls and things, Heinick said. I can feel myself getting a little upset, so coming back at this point, I think it’s good. It’s not just like jumping into a Sunday night football game since I’ve been sitting at home for a week.
The win against Washington was the second of three games in a row with four takeways for the Cowboys. They could be the fourth team since 1990 to be forced to make at least four turnovers in four consecutive games. The most recent was Buffalo in 2004.
The three games also had a defensive end for the first time since Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory and standout rookie linebacker Mika Parsons played together since the opener. Lawrence misses 10 games for a broken leg.
“Having him there allows us to go a little faster, play a little faster, be a little smarter,” Gregory said. We have a combination and the guys really know what to do, and down time and there are things like that. Putting him out is a plus any week.
The big Gibson question
Washington’s biggest unanswered question is the condition of Antonio Gibson, who returned injured. In Philadelphia, he suffered a toe injury that Rivera said was similar to the turf two that Gibson derailed in the 2020 season.
Pass-catching back JD McKissick is in reserve with a neck injury after a scary game in the last game against Dallas. If Gibson can’t play, the lion’s share will probably go to Jarrett Patterson.
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